The entire broadcast spectrum in the United States is leased from or assigned by the government. Cell phone, commercial radio, broadcast television and the like are all leased. Emergency services, military, ham radio, air traffic control - these are the types of things assigned by the government and strictly enforced...
If your ham radio bleeds through into the commercial radio spectrum when you broadcast that is a violation they will track down and fine you for. There may be other penalties if you are deemed as running a "pirate" (unlicensed) radio broadcast operation.
The "airwaves" are considered a national resource owned jointly by the American people and administered by the government on our behalf.
Obviously that is over-simplified, but it represents the core concept behind the FCC.
Federal Communications Commission - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Citizen's rights versus the rights of corporations to profit from their proprietary content and technology are ongoing debates and policy disputes...
There are some who argue that if it is in the air and you have the tech needed to capture it, then it is yours to use free from additional charge. This is the concept behind broadcast television and radio. They make their money from advertisers. If you have a device to capture those frequencies you are free to do so without additional charge.
Cable and satellite operators originally claimed they would make their profit from subscription fees and thereby not require advertisements. That quickly changed and now they "double dip" by charging fees for their services and generate revenue from outside advertisers. In any event they own the content and if you want access it is under their terms.
Cell phone use differs in that the carriers are not making profit from content in large measure. They are providing a conduit to content and so are reselling bandwidth use leased from the government and available only through their proprietary technology. There are no phone calls floating around in the air waiting for you to grab with an appropriate transceiver. (OK there are - and you can - but that is deemed theft, invasion of privacy and other criminal acts. Another discussion entirely. Please remember I know I'm simplifying things here a great deal.) Nor, despite the misnomer "cloud," is there data floating around for your free use. These things are all stored in hardware with clear ownership and we gain access only under consent of the content owner and possibly with fees and/or permission restrictions attached.
Back to the "if it is in the air and you can grab it, it is yours to use" concept. This movement is also known as FTA or Free to Air. Free-to-air - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In some countries this concept is expanded to include the right of unencrypting satellite broadcasts and if you possess the tech to receive and unencrypt the signal you may transfer the content to a viewing device. The airwaves are considered a free resource that may be tapped into within privacy limits. In the United States this has been deemed theft of content and made unlawful.
Back to cell phones., the FCC Charter and Mission... Most likely it is deemed by the FCC that the violation occurred by Verizon requesting Google to block certain content from their users. Note that under US code it is still allowable for Verizon to charge for your use of the spectrum and to limit the amount of that use.
The most interesting bit of the article to me is that a carrier "shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee's C Block network." That sounds like a precedence to not limit which device I want to use. So if my Virgin Mobile cell phone can operate on their spectrum they are obligated to enable it for me. That is a HUGE policy shift carriers will have to make. All the tethering restrictions and charges still apply under the terms of your service contract. That really has not changed. What has changed is that they can't block you from downloading an App that a third party offers, or viewing a third party's content, or selecting which spectrum capable device you use on that spectrum.